Pedernales Falls State Park consists of 5211.7 acres east of Johnson City in Blanco County. The actual address is 2585 Park Road 6026 (830) 868-7304. Until 1970, the property was privately owned working ranch (the Circle Bar Ranch). The property was purchased in 1970 and later in 1971 it was opened to the public. The main attractions in the park are the falls which can be viewed from a picturesque overlook located in the north end of the park a short walk from the parking area. The falls are unusual covering a distance of about three thousand linear feet over layered limestone with a drop of about fifty feet. The limestone of the river is part of the southwestern flank of the Llano foundation dating back some three million years.
There are many things to do while visiting the park, including ten miles of equestrian trails for day use only; they have a special area set aside for owners to park their vehicles for loading and unloading of their horses. They do not have horse rentals so if you plan on riding you will need to bring your own animals. All horse paper work is checked at the front gate, so don’t forget to bring them with you to the park, or the animals will not be allowed access to the park.
There is also a very limited hunting opportunity for deer and hog once a year, The Park is closed for about two weeks for this purpose, to find out more contact the park office for the process, dates, times and costs. This is a rare opportunity for the hunting enthusiast that qualifies and is chosen for this hunting experience.
The Pedernales River is one of the main attractions in the park with its beautiful hidden ponds and scenic trails. There is a designated swimming area where visitors enjoy wading or tubing as well as swimming. For those who enjoy fishing catfish, carp, perch or bass, with catfish being the most prevalent, especially after the levels of the river grow higher. Other things that people enjoy while visiting Pedernales Falls State Park are camping, bird watching and hiking the many trails that are found within the park itself.
Pedernales Falls State Park has a wonderful youth group camping area that is reserved for special group activities and is located within easy walking distance from where the official water recreation area begins. For family camping, there are several camp sites with electric and water hook-ups and a dump station is located close by. Restrooms with and without showers are located throughout the park. For the avid camper, primitive campsites are available but to get there a two-mile hike is necessary no pets or ground fires are allowed while camping in this area.
There are several picnic areas available for the day for family picnics or gatherings. With over nineteen miles of hiking and mountain biking trails and fourteen miles designated for backpacking, this is a place to become one with nature. The trails are well-marked and maintained going through hills that are full of cedar oak and juniper going deeper into the heavily wooded sections with walnut, pecan, elm and sycamore with hackberry found in the drainage areas. Along the river you will see cypress, ash and button bush growing in their natural environment.
For bird watching a special enclosed area is available with a covered shelter with feeders and a drip birdbath. Food is available for the birds’ year round, and the building is wheelchair accessible and has room for at least fifteen people. There have been over one hundred and fifty species of birds seen at the park with about one-third of them being permanent year-round residents.
While visiting Pedernales Falls State Historical Site if the water starts to rise, it is best to move to higher ground because the falls are prone to flash flooding and within minutes, the water can go from a slow-moving tranquil river to a dangerous powerful surge of water. Sirens for warning have been installed in the park and in various places along the river to alert visitors of impending danger. Flash floods have resulted in several deaths at the park, making it critical for visitors to keep up with changing weather conditions. Be sure to visit the gift shop where you can find postcards, tee-shirts, or a baseball cap at very reasonable prices.